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Hemingway Adventure

Cáorle (second day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureUp before dawn. It is bitterly, bitterly cold, but the skies are clear and the stars abundant.

Slip a copy of Across the River and into the Trees into my pocket, for Hemingway’s descriptions of a duck-shoot on the frozen lagoon are amongst his most unforgettable images.

Outside the casone the flat-bottomed boats are ready for the hunters. I’m to shoot with Alberto, though not literally, as I’m very fond of ducks and anyway the hunting party would surely not appreciate a novice in such a serious endeavour. Alberto shrugs. ‘Hemingway did not take it so seriously. He would bring a book to read and a bottle of whisky.’

Well, now I don't feel so bad. Alberto checks his Beretta 12-gauge shotgun one last time and we clamber into the boat. A flock of wooden decoy ducks is gathered in the bows, and our boatman sits in the stern with his dog, which will later retrieve the fallen ducks.

'In bocca al lupo!' they shout to each other. For an alarming moment I think they may be calling for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. In fact it means 'In the mouth of the wolf,' the traditional duck-shooters' equivalent of the actors' 'Break a leg!'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Cáorle (second day)
  • Country/sea: Italy
  • Place: Cáorle
  • Book page no: 65

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